Pop goes the auction

16 August 2018
comic-67274.jpg Comic
Hake’s July 10-12 auction struck gold, netting in all US$1.9m. Pop culture was the name of the game here, and interest in the genre remains unabated, if the results were anything to go by.

Hake’s July 10-12 auction struck gold, netting in all US$1.9m. Pop culture was the name of the game here, and interest in the genre remains unabated, if the results were anything to go by.

Rare comics and original comic art ruled the top ten spots, with two original Frank Frazetta pieces of artwork finishing at the very top of the tree. Although primarily known for his distinctive horror and fantasy art, Frazetta mastered other art genres as well. Original colour cover artwork for two issues of Blazing Combat, a comic/magazine published from October 1965 to July 1966 stole the event: the publication featured war stories in both contemporary and period settings, but its run was short, lasting only four issues. Each of the Frazetta cover artworks created for this obscure title were offered with a US$75,000-100,000 estimate. Issue No2, from January 1966, reached US$112,536, while issue No4, from July 1966, followed closely behind at US$101,386.

There was also an incomparable selection of 1,300 comic books from the Golden through Modern Age. Most coveted among them were the first issues and those whose storyline saw the debut of a key character. For example, Detective Comics No.38 introduced Batman’s sidekick Robin the Boy Wonder. Hake’s offered a CGC-graded 5.5 Fine example of the April 1940 comic, with boldly colorful cover art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson. It was completely fresh to the market and came from a recently discovered Golden Age comic book collection whose original owner had purchased the comics new off the rack in the 1930s and 1940s. This example sold for US$58,410, while a copy of No.36, published in 1940 and featuring the background and first appearance of Dr Hugo Strange, was bid to US$28,997.

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Predictably, many comic books made short shrift of their pre-sale estimates. Jumbo Comics No.5 was cover-dated January 1939 and published as a Christmas issue. Possibly a unique survivor, it attracted the punters, who bid it up to more than ten times its high estimate, with the winning bidder paying a princely US$10,209.

Star Wars enthusiasts leaped at the third consecutive auction opportunity to acquire action figures from the revered Russell Branton collection. Leading the line-up entered in the July sale was a Star Wars: Power of the Force Anakin Skywalker carded Kenner mock-up figure from the 1985 Toy Fair. The fully painted prototype came with its hand-cut proof card with coin and blister pack, and made an impressive ascent to US$31,411.

Political memorabilia, perhaps not widely collected outside the US, once again produced strong results. The predicted big winner, a 1916 campaign button with patriotic imagery surrounding a portrait of Republican presidential candidate and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, surpassed its US$20,000 high estimate to declare victory at US$23,558.

Finally, a fresh-to-the-hobby, 1913 original photo/postcard depicting the multi-racial All-Nations Baseball Club attracted international media attention in the run-up to the sale. The card depicts the earliest known international barnstorming baseball team to travel around the United States. What made this team unique was that it comprised ballplayers from not only the US, but also Hawaii, Japan, Cuba, the Philippines, China and India. “They were a formidable presence in baseball and certainly ahead of their time, preceding even the Negro Leagues,” commented Hake’s spokesperson. The postcard, which doubled as a free pass for the media, sold within its estimate range at US$14,278.